When you used to say the word “Orlando,” it brought up the image of Harry Potter, Disney World castles and waterparks — but it now conjures a different image: that of mass murder at the Pulse nightclub. In time, that image will cease to exist for most of America; the city of Orlando will want that imagery to be lost, as will the many tourist attractions that call it home. Families will again visit in droves, and they should; it is not the fault of the city or its attractions, it’s the fault of one lone, possibly unstable, man.


The LGBT community won’t soon forget the massacre in Orlando, if ever. I truly believe that each time an LGBT person hears the word “Orlando,” they will recall the shooting, no matter how far in the future. And we should, as there are two issues that have been forever changed since this horrific event.

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The first is that we are finally beginning to focus on the hate crimes committed against our community. That might sound like a small thing but in reality it’s larger than most would expect. You see, while the media has concentrated on marriage equality and LGBT people in the military, they present hate crimes as a side story. The reality is, hate crimes affect more LGBT people than all the LGBTs in the military. What’s more, the political right establishment knew that but didn’t want to publicize it since they refused to allow the FBI to monitor hate-crime statistics.


But the second change is more profound. Those 49 people who perished in Orlando did not die in vain. From the deadliest mass shooting in American history has come a debate on gun violence and gun control that will bring change — maybe not today, but in the near future. Also, hate-crime laws and nondiscrimination laws are now being taken more seriously by legislatures around the country and maybe even in Congress, where LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination legislation has sat since its original introduction way back in 1974 by Bella Abzug and Ed Koch.


Instead of referring to this legislation as the Employment Nondiscrimination Act, or the newer Equality Act, why not give it a name in honor of those victims in Orlando? Maybe then, Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan will allow it to come up for a vote.

 

Mark Segal, Philadelphia Gay News publisher, is the nation’s most-award-winning commentator in LGBT media. You can follow him on Facebook at MarkSegalPGN or Twitter at PhilaGayNews. His memoir AND THEN I DANCED is available online and at your favorite bookstore.

 

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